The Future of Teague Retroactivity, or "Redressability," after Danforth V. Minnesota: Why Lower Courts Should Give Retroactive Effect to New Constitutional Rules of Criminal Procedure in Postconviction Proceedings

Article excerpt

Although the Supreme Court's 1989 decision in Teague v. Lane generally prohibits the application of new constitutional rides of criminal procedure in federal habeas review of state court judgments, the Court's 2008 decision in Danforth v. Minnesota frees state courts from Teague's strictures. Danforth explicitly permits state courts to fashion their own rules governing the retroactive application of new federal constitutional rules in postconviction proceedings, and leaves open the question whether lower federal courts are bound by Teague in postconviction review of federal criminal convictions.

In this Article, I examine the doctrinal underpinnings of the Court's retroactivity jurisprudence, and propose that state courts and the lower federal courts abandon the Supreme Court's experiment with nonretroactivity. Affording retroactive application to new constitutional rules in state and federal postconviction proceedings promotes fairness to litigants and uniformity in the development of federal constitutional criminal doctrine. Perhaps most importantly, a rule of retroactivity permits the lower state and federal courts to regain a role in the development of constitutional doctrine that had previously been constricted, first by Teague and then by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. My examination of the Danforth opinion leads me to believe that the foundations upon which Teague was built are now crumbling. Danforth marks a shift in the Court's conception of the function of habeas corpus which portends well "for the reinvigoration of a constitutional dialogue among the lower courts and an increased role in constitutional development for the lower federal courts.

INTRODUCTION

  PROLOGUE: POSTCONVICTION PROCEDURES AS THEY EXIST TODAY
  I. HISTORY OF THE SUPREME COURT'S CRIMINAL RETROACTIVITY
     JURISPRUDENCE BEFORE DANFORTH
     A. Brown v. Allen and the Expansion of Federal Habeas
        Review
     B. The Birth of Nonretroactivity: Linkletter v. Walker and
        Professor Mishkin's Critique
     C. Expansion of the Linkletter Nonretroactivity Doctrine
     D. Justice Harlan' s Criticism of the Stovall-Linkletter
        Doctrine
     E. Overthrow of the Linkletter-Stovall Regime: Griffith v.
        Kentucky and Teague v. Lane
     F. Criticism of Teague

 II. THE DANFORTH DECISION: TEAGUE DOES NOT BIND THE STATE
     COURTS
     A. The Key Notes Struck by the Majority Opinion
     B. The Key Notes Struck by the Dissent
     C. Important Questions Left Open by Danforth

III. THE FUTURE OF RETROACTIVITY IN STATE POSTCONVICTION
     PROCEEDINGS
     A. The Court's Return to Blackstone
     B. Prospectivity and the Problem of Equality.
     C. The Nature of Judicial Review
     D. A Voice for State Courts in the Development of Federal
        Constitutional Criminal Procedure
     E. Retroactive Application of New Rules in Postconviction
        Proceedings Ensures Uniformity
     F. Finality, the Only Teague Concern that Remains
        1. The Value of "Finality" in State Postconviction
           Proceedings
        2. Benefits of Retroactivity on Collateral Review
           Outweigh Finality Concerns
        3. Addressing Finality Through Procedureal
           Mechanisms Other than Nonretroactivity
     G. Problems in Administration Avoided by the Return to
        Retroactivity

 IV. THE FUTURE OF RETROACTIVITY IN FEDERAL POSTCONVICTION
     PROCEEDINGS

  V. THE FUTURE OF RETROACTIVITY IN FEDERAL HABEAS CORPUS
     REVIEW OF STATE-COURT JUDGMENTS

CONCLUSION

INTRODUCTION

Beginning in 1965, the Supreme Court's decisions on the retroactive application of new constitutional rules of criminal procedure have presented a "confused and confusing" (1) jurisprudence. The Court's recent decision in Danforth v. Minnesota, (2) however, represents a significant and promising break with the past. Danforth makes clear the Court's retroactivity rules are binding only on federal courts considering state prisoners' habeas corpus petitions. …

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